The German Economy in the Twentieth Century

The German Economy in the Twentieth Century

The German Economy in the Twentieth Century

The German Economy in the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

Pivoting on two world wars, intense political change has dramatically affected Germany's economic structure and development. This book traces the logic and the peculiarities of German economic development through the Weimar Republic, Third Reich, and Federal Republic. Providing a comprehensive analysis of the period, the book also assesses controversial issues, such as the origins of the Great Depression, the primacy of politics or economics in the decision to invade Poland, and the future risks to the Weltmeister economy of the Federal Republic oppressed by unemployment, the huge debts of some of its trading partners, and the possibility of worldwide protectionism.

Excerpt

When dealing with a comparatively long time span of economic development-in this case almost one hundred years-the problem arises whether it would be preferable to concentrate on long-term trends in fields like economic growth and fluctuations, public finance and foreign trade or divide them into smaller periods of time and then investigate the particular features of those periods in more detail. While the first option would have had much to commend it I have mainly relied on the second alternative, although in the second half of the book I have stressed trends which were in the forefront of Federal German economic development in the second half of the twentieth century and which originated in the first half or even in the nineteenth century. In dealing with the first half of the twentieth century I have relied on divisions familiar from political history.

The main reason for this procedure is the specific course of German history in the twentieth century. While some businessmen and politicians in the Federal Republic find pleasure in pointing out that the FRG has, in recent years, been Weltmeister (world champion) in exports, and, during the last decades, in low inflation rates, this title certainly belongs to Germany if one considers her twentieth century political development with its unique and partly tragic sequence of imperial monarchy, (Weimar) democracy, (National Socialist) dictatorship and Western parliamentarian democracy in the West and Socialist Volksdemokratie in the East. These radical changes had, of course, a marked influence on the economic framework and on economic growth, although the latter is more difficult to pinpoint. Moreover, two world wars, especially the second, have changed the German political bound-

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